Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Napoleonic Division Battle

Have started playing around with Muskets and Mohawks for Napoleonics. Some changes are required as Muskets and Mohawks is written with each unit being a company. The Napoleonic version moves up a  notch to the more traditional battalion, battery, regiment scale.

This requires some changes in mechanics, ranges and so on. More significant changes are required in the solo/coop campaigns and if you will, AI.

Here is a shot of a game in progress. Having randomly chosen a couple of storage drawers we see Hanoverians assaulting a French position. Both sides' skirmish lines have just engaged. The first Hanoverian brigade is about to advance through their skirmishers. The French are formed in three lines; skirmishers and guns in the front, followed by one brigade in line and a second in column of divisions.

All told a "division" comes out to about 60 infantry, and one gun with 6-8 crew. Naturally either side may be augmented by reinforcement over the course of play.

Early days yet but so far so good.

Sunday, March 11, 2012

Orc's Drift: The Bitter End

Despite my previous misgivings, with the table set up and the forces in position, it was "go time" : )

The Kwae Karr approach from Linden Way.

The Severed Hand approach from Ashak Rise.

The Vile Rune, having been badly battered at Kachas Pass, elect to lead with their pet giant, Guthrum Mane. It was at this point that the giant's taste for the grape came to its fore. The giant blocked up the pass for quite some time while the battle played out without the Vile Rune.

Having done my bit against the elves at Kachas Pass, I flew to support the Kwae Karr who would be first to test the defenses of the Drift.

In the event both the Severed Hand and the Kwae Karr approached more or less simultaneously.

The orcs braced themselves to face the hail of murderous elven arrows. The approach of the Severed Hand stalled.

The Kwae Karr get stuck right in.

To my surprise they were up and over the wall in an instant.

This left their leader, Magyar Ironfist (Rep 5) facing the elven leader Brommedir (Rep 7). This was not going to be pretty.

Surprisingly Magyar was able to hold his ground. The respite was brief though as Osrim Chardz (also Rep 7), ordered his dwarven engineers into the fray.

The Kawe Karr were barely holing onto their toe hold beyond the wall when the Severed Hand finally got up the never to charge!

They too were up and over in an instant!

I couldn't believe my good fortune. Both orc columns over the wall in their first rush. The battle hung in the balance.

The time was ripe. I circled round and attacked the dwarves from behind.

I (King F'Yar!), plowed through the dwarves like a hot knife through butter.

Soon I was snout to face with Chardz! This would be telling as I was only Rep 6 against his Rep 7. Of course being mounted on a Wyvern gave me a slight edge.

While the dwarf and I battled it out, the melee on the walls continued. Surprisingly Magyar killed Brommedir. My wyvern snapped Chardz in two!

In a matter of moments...

...the last defenders were overwhelmed.


I lost fifteen orcs in the assault on Orc's Drift, to the loss of the 25 or so elves and dwarves that made up the garrison. As these troops were of the same quality as those that handled my boys so badly at Kachas Pass I must put my successful assaults down to luck.

Indeed I had expected a brutal slogging match that would try my patience and instead it was all over in minutes.

C'est le jeu!

Hope you enjoyed the mayhem and thanks for stopping by!

Saturday, March 10, 2012

Orc's Drift: The outlying settlements are overrun

All across the table, orc numbers were finally telling.

One by one the brave dwarves on the bridge at Ashak Rise fell.

In twos and threes the Linden Way militia fell to sword and arrow.

Even the fierce elven defenders of Kachas Pass were overwhelmed.

Snorimm Fimbul fight like a slayer, yet he too was overcome...

...and yet his sacrifice allowed his people to escape with their hard dug gold.

The bridge clear at last, the Severed Hand march to war. In the background the last moments of the defenders of Kachas Pass play out.

The Kwae Karr lay waste to Linden Way.

Everywhere the orcs converge on Orc's Drift.

The Severed Hand have spent their chaos hounds in the attack at Ashak Rise. They have not lost a single orc  as they thread their way through the mountains.

The Kwae Karr have lost only six of their number in the attack on Linden Way.

The Vile Rune are hard hit. They have lost near half their number in the attack on Kachas Pass and will have to rely on their giant, Guthrum Mane, to bear the brunt of the assault on the Drift.

Brommedir and Chardz can see the smoke rising from the fallen settlments. Will their handful of defenders be enough to stop the orc horde?

Some game notes:

Everything has gone off without a hitch so far. Obviously different dice rolls and decisions would have led to slight different outcomes but that is how it goes.

One negative note though is in the nature of the scenarios themselves. They are all basically variations on the assault on a fixed position. It does tend to be a bit monotonous after a while. I charge the walls. They feed in men/elves/dwarves here and there. With luck they are overcome. Without it, the orcs clamber over the fallen and on to victory. Makes for an exciting narrative but perhaps not so very exciting a game. Oh well.

I have considered foregoing the pre-determined defense of Orc's Drift in favor of the Possible 
Enemy Force mechanics of WHAA. This could lead to a very different battle where my force could conceivably even end up outnumbered by an Alliance relief force. However that would hardly live up to the imagery of Orc's Drift would it?

Might just pack the whole game in as I've some notions for an upcoming Horse and Musket rule set I am keen to try out... So many choices and so little time eh?

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

Kachas Pass: Detailed Combat

Reader gsg requested a detailed example of WHAA big battle combat as carried out in the Orc's Drift game. A fine idea so here it is.

This post will look at two turns of combat at Kachas Pass. The example starts after the elves have activated and it is now the orc's turn to go.

The orcs have two bodies formed; one consisting of 12 Rep 4 orcs with a banner and one consisting of one Rep 7, Terror, Artillery, giant. The elves are a single body of 5 Rep 4, Elite Trained Missile, elves behind a wooden fence (generously considered a "field work" here).

The orc player (me) decides to charge with the orc body first.

Coming within 8 inches of the target, the orcs and elves must take the Test of Wills. This is largely a formality as I intend to close anyway but for completeness sake here it is:

Orcs roll 4d6 for their Rep. Elves roll 4d6 for their Rep. The orcs score two successes to the elves' one  so the orcs test to charge.

Test to Charge. 
Orcs 4d6 for their Rep, Elves 4d6 for their Rep. Orcs pass one to the elves' 3. This time the elves have scored  two more successes. As the chargers scored fewer successes than their target the charging body halts and the defending body fires.

Elves fire.
The elves roll 5 dice, four for their Rep and one for being bow armed. As they are Elite Trained they will automatically pass at least one d6.

The orcs roll 4 dice for their Rep. No other modifiers apply.

The orcs pass 3 dice while the elves only pass 2.

Checking the Mass Battle QRS Firing Table, we see the lower scoring side scores one hit per every four figures firing. As there are 5 elves firing they inflict only a single hit. 

A roll on the firing damage table results in one orc Out of the Fight.  Whenever a figure becomes Out of the Fight, Retires, or Runs Away the two nearest friendly figures must take a Crisis Test to see if they flee the field.

As the orc body has a banner in the front rank the orcs get to roll 3d6 for this test. One figures passes with no trouble while the second figure only passes 1 d6. This figure must retire on a friendly banner or rout off the table. It so happens that King F'Yar with his banner is behind the body about six inches away and the orc retires on King F'yar.

The retiring orc causes two more Crisis Tests. This time the two orcs testing pass without any difficulty.

This ends the orcs' activation. Their losses and the retiring figure have left them broken up into three bodies, one of 8, one of 2, and one of 1 orc.

I now activate the giant who also wants to charge the elves.

This time the giant rolls 7 dice for his test of wills while the elves roll only 3 (4 for their Rep less one because the giant causes Terror).

The giant passes 7 dice to the elves' 0 and will charge counting as if frenzied.

In the charge test the giant again rolls 7 dice to the elves' 3. This time the giant passes 3 dice to the elves' 2 and the elves fire at him.

The elves roll 5 dice (Rep +1 for bow) and the giant rolls 7 dice. The giant passes 4 to the elves' 1. Again the elves inflict one hit per four figures firing or 1 hit. 

The damage roll yields and out of the fight result but the giant has Hardiness 5 and so rolls 2d6 vs. his Hardiness passing both. The giant is "startled" and ends his activation.

That ends my turn with the loss of one orc, and my attacking force broken up and in need of reorganization. In retrospect I probably should have used the giant's artillery trait to throw a boulder at the elves instead of charging but frankly I forgot all about it.


Later on I have regrouped and am ready for another assault.

This time I have formed one body of 11 orcs and the giant. The elves have one body of  the same five bow armed elves and their leader a Rep 7 Elf has joined them.

Again we start with the test of wills. This test uses the highest Rep in the body for the test and so the orcs use the giants Rep of 7 and the elves their leader's Rep, also 7. The elves' Rep is reduced to 6 by the giant's Terror trait.

The orcs pass 5 dice and the elves 4 and it's on to the charge test.

This time the orcs pass 2 dice and the elves 1.  The orcs charge home but not before elves loose another volley of arrows.

Combat tests use the "majority type" of a body to carry out. That is to say that whatever type of figure composes the more than half the unit, counts for combat purposes. Figures use their Hardiness   trait, if they have one, to determine how many "figures" they are for this purpose.

In this case there are 11 orcs and one Hardiness 5 giant. There are more orcs than the giant's Hardiness trait so the body counts as the orcs' Rep of 4.

There are five Rep 4 elves with one Rep 7, Hardiness 3, hero. The elves also count as Rep 4.

For firing the elves roll 5 dice (Rep + 1 for being bow armed) while the orcs only roll their Rep or 4 dice. The elves pass all five dice while the orcs only pass 2. Looking at the firing chart this means the elves will inflict one hit plus one more for each two elves firing. The five elves score 3 hits!

Checking the firing damage table the elves roll 3 dice scoring two 4's and a 6. Remarkably no orcs are hurt and one might even lose control and charge. As I am charging anyway I ignore the control test and go right to combat.

The orc body move up to the fence. The orc body counts as 16 figures (11 orcs and one Hardiness five giant) verses the elves' 8 figures (5 elves and one Hardiness 3 hero), so the elves are outnumbered.

The orcs roll 5 dice (majority type Rep 4 plus 1d6 for being on larger bases than the elves) while the elves roll 3 dice (Rep 4, +1 for field works, -1 for Terror, -1 for being outnumbered).

The orcs pass 3 dice and the elves pass only 1.  

The orcs will cause one OOF plus another one for every full 3 figures engaged. Engaged figures are those in base contact with the enemy or right next to a figure in base contact with the enemy. In this case there are five orcs and the giant engaged, counting as 10 figures (5 for the orcs and 5 for the giant's Hardiness of 5). Four elves are removed from play.

For their part the elves still score one hit for every four figures engaged. There  are five elves engaged so one orc is removed from play.

Normally both side would need to take crisis tests for losses but the Bloodbath at Orc's Drift campaign specifies that the defending elves will not rout so there is really no point in having them test.

The orcs however do need to test. One lost figure requires two figures to test. Both get to roll 3d6 vs. their Rep and both pass at least two and so do stay in the ranks.

The combat has severely weakened the elves. On the plus side their Rep 7, Hardiness 3 hero is now the "majority type" and if engaged again the elves will count as Rep 7 for combat purposes.

My giant is still in the minority so it might benefit me to separate him out next chance I get or make him part of a smaller body of five orcs and the giant. That will give me five orcs to suffer from any missile hits while still leaving the body as Rep 7 in a fight.

Hope you have found this example useful.

Friday, March 2, 2012

Orc's Drift: The Opening Moves

King F'Yar astride his wyvern
Opened the ball today with the first few turns of the Orcs Drift mega-game.

The hounds of the Severed Hand clan approach Ashak Rise while the
Vile Ruin orcs advance on the outpost at Kachas Pass

Having conducted the pregame sequence and brought the advanced orc elements onto the table a few things became clear.

First up, it would take a long time to play this game with the skirmish rules in Warrior Heroes Armies and Adventures (hereafter WHAA). The bow fire from the defenders of Kachas Pass alone would require up to 15 opposed dice rolls. With 110 orc rank and file such a game would take a long time indeed.

This game will be played using the Big Battle rules.

The dwarves of Ashak Rise form up on the bridge.
 Secondly, while each scenario has some interesting wrinkles with secret plots and characters, that I shall not divulge here, the NPC rules in WHAA really are geared towards fighting, which is after all what the game is about. I could play out the various NPC plots using something like the excellent Mythic RPG rules, however I really just wanted to get on with the battle. So various sub plots, most notably that of the druid Ferndale Snart, have been dropped.

Here's what is left:

  1. The dwarves of Ashak Rise will fight on until they can secure the loading and moving of their pack animals off the table. After that they will withdraw in the same direction as their baggage.
  2. The mad illusionist at Linden Way remains in play. The scenario specifies his mania by game turn and I will just interpret those results in WHAA terms.
  3. The refugees from Linden Way will move to exit the board by their predesignated route each time they activate. 

Orc skirmishers approach Linden Way
 The Cunning Plan:

Playing all four games in the campaign at one go gives the orc player and advantage lacking in comparison to playing the four games separately. King F'Yar and the F'Yar Guard can only be committed to one of the opening battles. However given the mobility afforded by his wyvern mount, King F'Yar should be able to fly to where ever he is most needed in the space of a turn or three.

Having played all three preliminary battles in the past, using Warhammer 3d edition, I have some idea of what to expect. Even though the rules in use differ the situations and relative force levels involved remain so such speculation may be useful.

The three opening operations may be summed up thus:

  1. The elven archers at Kachas Pass can be expected to inflict many casualties on the orcs.
  2. The skilled dwarves at Ashak Rise can be expected to hold that demmed bridge indefinitely.
  3. Linden Way will fall in due course without the orcs suffering undue loss.
Given those presumptions, King F'yar will not be needed at Linden Way. The King would be very useful at Ashak Rise, if only to land behind the dwarves on the bridge and outflank them. The King would also be very useful at Kachas pass if he can avoid being shot that is, as a means of rallying faltering troops and keeping the pressure on the elves.

King F'Yar and the F'Yar Guard
 In the end I committed the king to Kachas Pass.

WHAA has something called the Crisis Test. Every time a figure is lost, two of the nearest figures must test to see if they stay in play or lose heart and  flee. This can be quite devastating to low Rep troops like goblins for example . Kill a few and many more will scarper. With average troops the effects can be quite variable depending on the luck of the dice.

Now banners can be used to counteract crisis tests to an extent. If a figure can see a banner as close or closer to the enemy than itself, the figure's chance of passing a Crisis Test improves. Having a banner behind a figure that has failed a Crisis Test provides a rallying point that may bring the fleeing figure back into the game.

Each orc clan has one banner and King F'Yar carries one as well.  Expecting the greatest losses at Kachas Pass,  I attached the King to that front to try and mitigate losses due to Crisis Tests.

King F'Yar rallies troops and sends them back into the fray.

You may recall, dear reader, that the defenders of Kachas Pass, Ashak Rise, Linden Way, and indeed Orc's Drift itself are immune from routing in these scenarios. With this in mind it is clear that fear is my greatest foe as I can expect as many of my orcs to rout as to actually succumb to wounds.

Thus far at Kachas Pass, the presence of King F'Yar has saved a quarter of the Vile Ruin orcs from desertion...saved for King F'Yar that is. I am quite sure the individual orcs would have been much better off fleeing!

The mad Illusionist leads the flight from Linden Way.
Not so mad after all is he?
At the end of the first four or five turns the initial attacks are well underway. Here is how it stands:
  • Kachas Pass: Fierce fighting on the north fence. Five elves and thirteen orcs lost so far.
  • Ashak Rise: The dwarves are holding the bridge with little effort. They have killed four hounds for no loss of their own.
  • Linden Way: The militia is holding the entrance to the town but is in danger of being enveloped on both flanks. The refugees have almost made good their escape...led by the mad Illusionist who has been alternating between panic and fear! Six militia, two refugees and two orcs lost so far.

More as it happens! 

Thursday, March 1, 2012

Orc's Drift: the Table

Here are a few shots of the table laid out for the Orc's Drift campaign.

As a reminder the campaign, written by Ian Page, Gary Chalk, and Joe Dever back in the 80's is designed to be played as four separate battles, each set out on its own table. Here I have combined all four into one table with what effect you soon shall see.

View looking West with Linden Way in the foreground, Ashak Rise center right, Orc's Drift center left, and Kachas Pass rear right.

I ended up rotating Linden Way a quarter turn to the East otherwise the orcs attacking there would be deploying in the rear of the dwarves at Ashak Rise.

Looking South towards Orc's drift. The River Canis is winds its way through the photo.

The outpost at Kachas Pass from the East.

A close up of Kachas Pass showing the defenders.

The bridge over the Canis at Ashak Rise. Dwarves can be seen going about their gold seeking business. Picture was taken while looking South-ish.

Linden Way. To the south west in the back center you can just make out one of the buildings of Orc's Drift.

Ashak Rise looking West. Dwarf sentry, foreground. Pack pigs and shack  center, and the rest of the dwarves in the background.

Ashak Rise looking North with gold mining dwarves in evidence.

Addressing the troops at Orc's Drift. Elven Standard, Osrim Chardz, dwarven engineer, and Brommeder, elven leader of Brommeder's bows left to right in center.

Things are a bit cramped as you can plainly see. Were I to be playing this game with a group of folks, I think the first three battles could be played out simultaneously, each taking up one third of the table and then the table would be reset for the final battle afterwards.

As it is just my boy and myself, this set up will do fine.

Not sure when the game will actually get started but will post when it does.

Thanks for stopping by!